Warriors coach Stephen Kearney has refused to engage on the penalty decision that turned the match on Thursday night against Melbourne, but didn't hide his disappointment with some of the refereeing calls in the second half.
The Warriors were hanging on grimly to a 12-10 lead with less than five minutes to play, when the officials found a penalty in the ruck right in front of the posts.
It was a 50-50 call at best, as Storm prop Jesse Bromwich dropped the ball as he attempted to play it quickly, and plenty of similar situations this year have been adjudged knock ons.
The Storm were finishing over the top over the Warriors – with spells of constant pressure – but time was against the home side – who were growing frustrated by the Warriors' impressive goal line defence.
That pressure was released with the penalty call, and the Brodie Croft's 78th minute field goal was enough to ice a 13-12 win.
However Kearney was careful with his verdict after the match.
"Don't get me started," said Kearney when asked about the late decision. "A 4-1 [penalty count] in the second half and there was one for an offside. You're asking me the question so you obviously saw something and I'm sure a number of other people in the stadium were thinking the same thing…it's disappointing."
"[But] what's the point of talking about it? You are asking me the question so it is obviously an issue but what does it do? It happened. The one thing I won't do is blame the referees but it is difficult when you work really hard."
Unlike some other defeats this year, the Warriors' resilience and desire couldn't be questioned last night. They produced probably their best defensive performance of the season in Melbourne, withstanding intense pressure in both halves , and generally matched the Storm in the wrestle.
"It can be cruel sometimes the game in that you don't get the reward for the amount of effort you put in," said Kearney. "In the last couple of weeks where we let ourselves down was we beat ourselves, and I thought we didn't do that last night. We probably could have been a little bit better but I thought we managed it as well as we could have."
However the Warriors did open the door for the Storm in the last quarter, as they failed to complete well and invited more pressure. Chanel Harris-Tavita, who otherwise had a fine game, missed the mark with a couple of fifth tackle kicks as he struggled with cramp in the last 15 minutes.
The team also missed the organizational skills and experience of Issac Luke in the final 20 minutes. Just like last week against the Cowboys, he was off for most of that crucial period.
Kearney said it was a product of the game situation, after the Warriors lost Jazz Tevaga (calf) at halftime and Bunty Afoa (hamstring) late in the game.
"That was how we managed it, because of the situation with Jazz going down," explained Kearney. "We lost Bunty at the back end and had to manage the big guys throughout the middle, [Lachlan] Burr, Agnatius [Paasi] and Leeson [Ah Mau] so we didn't burn them out all at once."
An undoubted bright spot of the night was the performance of centre Patrick Herbert on debut, who rose to the occasion well and was particularly dynamic on defence. The 22-year-old made nine runs for more than 100 metres, as well as 17 tackles, including a couple of belters on opposite number Will Chambers.
"He did well," said Kearney. "He has worked really hard at ISP level, he got the opportunity, he did a great job and I'm pleased for him. He made a good fist of his debut against a quality team."